The problems are piling up for several businesses in the area of 5th Street and 2nd Avenue South in downtown Lethbridge.
Multiple shops have been closed for a week since a water main break caused flooding.
“We lost all of our utilities. The power was completely trashed,” said Chantale Noel, who owns one of the affected businesses. “Hot water, plumbing, we have absolutely no utilities in there beyond power at this point.
“It’s been really tough on us all.”
And there’s no clear timeline on when they can reopen.
Business owners have been going to the city for answers, but say they’re getting nowhere.
“It’s a really bad situation here because we feel like we’re left in the dark,” said Imad Dalank, another impacted business owner.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work communicating with the folks impacted — both residents and businesses — through hand-delivered letters and through the landlord, but we are hearing they’re not feeling as informed. So (on Tuesday) we will be going out and doing some face-to-face meetings,” said Luke Palmer, emergency manager for the City of Lethbridge.
According to the city, the cause of the water main break is still unknown and will be determined by insurance providers.
As for when businesses can reopen, the city recommends owners speak with their respective landlords.
“The main concern is getting utilities restored, so working with the building owner… they’re trying to get that online so those buildings can function properly,” Palmer said.
The flooding follows the Lethbridge Hotel fire, which happened just 11 days before the break and limited access to surrounding businesses.
The city confirmed the presence of asbestos in the debris and those working near the site have health concerns.
“We all operate family businesses. Our own families go into our small businesses,” Noel said.
Palmer says safety is the city’s top priority.
“We’re working closely with both Alberta Environment, Occupational Health and Safety to make sure what they require us to do: to dispose of and treat those contaminated materials, that we’re doing so properly,” Palmer said.
Fire officials are still investigating the cause of the hotel fire, which the city is hoping will wrap sometime this week.
At some point, the building site will be transferred to the property owner and complete demolition will be their decision, according to Palmer.